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Virginia Tech (7-4)
2/24/2012 | Mt. Pleasant, S.C. | Attendance: 128
2/24/2012 | Mt. Pleasant, S.C. | Attendance: 140
Friday, February 24, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. – If the remaining three games of the College of Charleston Classic are like the first days competition, head coach Kristin Ryman will be on heart medication by Sunday.
Lipscomb took two nail-biters from Virginia Tech and Wagner to open play in Charleston, Friday.
Senior Whitney Kiihnl threw her third shutout of the season in the opener against Virginia Tech, striking out five and scattering four hits for her season’s fourth victory.
Lipscomb got on the board in the first inning, thanks to timely baserunning by junior Bree Thurman. After leading the game off with a single, she advanced to second on a Rena’ Cothron sacrifice bunt. When Kelsey Cartwright grounded out to the pitcher, Thurman advanced to third. She finally scored on a Caroline Mason grounder to short that was misplayed, giving Lipscomb an early advantage.
The first two Virginia Tech batters would reach in the bottom of the first inning, but Mollie Mitchell picked off the lead runner at second and Kiihnl struck out Hokie clean-up hitter Courtney Liddle to neutralize the threat.
“We looked sharper defensively today,” said Lipscomb head coach Kristin Ryman. “When Mollie picked the girl off at second, it gave us some momentum back.”
Virginia Tech would put two on again in the third inning, but Bkaye Smith and Kylie Goldrick both made outs at third base to keep the Hokies off the scoreboard.
“Whitney threw a great game,” Ryman said. “She got into a few jams, but worked out of them every time.”
Lipscomb loaded the bases on a Cothron walk, a Cartwright single and a Mason single in the fifth inning, but left the bases loaded after Mitchell flew out to centerfield.
Sophomore Kristen Sturdivant cranked a home run to left center in the sixth inning to give the Lady Bison some breathing room down the stretch. It was her first home run of the season and her fourth career big fly.
Virginia Tech would put two on in the seventh inning as the Hokies tried to mount a rally. Kiihnl got Smith and Lauren Gaskill to strike out to end the game.
“This was a huge win for us,” Ryman said. “You look for signature wins throughout the season, and this was one for us. (Virginia Tech) is a good team that is regularly in a Regional. Beating them will be big for us later on.”
Lipscomb 7, Wagner 6 (8 innings)
If the first game was a pitcher’s duel, the second game started out like it would be anything but. The teams combined for five first-inning runs, with Wagner scoring four times in the top of the first. Kelsey Parker doubled in lead-off hitter Kristen Matteoni to open the scoring.
The Eagles would tack on runs from Parker, who scored on a wild pitch, and Hayley Sullivan and Brittany Huss. The latter two crossed the plate following an Ashley Rollins single to round out the first-inning fireworks for Wagner.
“Definitely not the way we were looking to start the game,” Ryman said. “Coming off a great win, to turn around and give up four runs in the first inning was a real shock.
“I never got the sense the girls though we would lose this game though. They strung together hits and got back in it. The fight and the will was there today.”
Lipscomb also got on the board in the first inning, when Mason singled to bring Thurman in from third.
Wagner added another run in the second, when Parker singled down the right field line to advance Carley Nicoletti. It would be the final inning for starter Ashley Anderson, who gave up five runs on five hits and a walk in two innings of work.
Lipscomb crawled back into it in the third inning. Cartwright scored on an error by the centerfielder on an attempted sacrifice fly by Mitchell. Mitchell and Mason would later score on a throwing error by the third baseman following a Sturdivant grounder.
“It took us a few innings to get stuff going,” Ryman said. “We knew we had to chip away since we were down. Once we scored three in the third to tie it up, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind we would be able to finish the job.”
The Lady Bison took the lead in the fifth inning when Sturdivant doubled freshman Jordan Abell home to tie the game at five apiece. Two batters later, sophomore Rena’ Cothron singled to right and Sturdivant scored the go-ahead run.
Wagner answered in the top of the sixth, when Parker singled up the middle to score Vanessa Lenart and tie the game.
The Eagles had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh when Jessica Albarran doubled to lead the inning off. A sac bunt moved her to third, but Kiihnl got Rollins on a strikeout and Lenart on a pop foul to first to end the threat.
After getting Wagner 1-2-3 in the eighth, Lipscomb placed freshman Brianne Welch on second. A Thurman ground out moved her to third before a Cothron bunt single brought her home for the game-winning run.
Kiihnl pitched 13 innings on the day, picking up both victories. She allowed no earned runs in six innings in the second game, striking out five. Cartwright was 3-for-4 with a triple in game two, while Mason added two hits.
The Lady Bison are back in action Saturday when they face Louisiana-Monroe (1 p.m.) and local foe Middle Tennessee (5 p.m.) Live stats will be available here.
Check back on Lipscombsports.com for more information on the Lady Bisons softball team, and be sure to like us on Facebook (Lipscomb Softball) and follow us on Twitter (@LU_Softball).